Computer,  Internet,  Security

It’s Much Bigger than Content Delivery – What to Expect from Your CDN

Network Internet CDN

We already know what people expect from their technology: way too much. And you know why? Back to the Future, that’s why. No matter how impressive some CDNs may be and how much they offer in addition to their content delivery services, it’s never going to be enough because we were told that by now we would have hoverboards.

Here’s the thing, though: there’s no doubt that if any of us had a hoverboard in our possession, it would be a matter of seconds before we hit a building, tree, or large animal, and ended up in a tangled heap on the ground. It would be unavoidable. But since crashing can be avoided in the virtual world, maybe we could all take a minute to appreciate the advancements made in Content Delivery Networks. They’re pretty impressive. Here’s what you can expect from a good CDN this year.

The facts

CDN stands for Content Delivery Network, which is conveniently exactly what it sounds like: a network of servers that helps deliver your content to users more quickly and efficiently. It’s a network of servers located all over the globe, all of which are storing your website’s information in order to ensure the fastest possible load times for visitors to your website. This is because the closer a user is to a server, the better the load time.

If you’re not using a CDN, your website will be stored on one server in one location, let’s say Wyoming. So all of the website users from Wyoming will enjoy a great user experience on your site, while users in Maine, Newfoundland, England, India and beyond will be drumming their fingers waiting for your website because they’re geographically further away. With a CDN, each user will be redirected to the nearest server for the best possible service from your website. And because your content will be stored on more than one server, you can be sure your servers will never be overwhelmed by traffic, leading to a crash.

Who needs a CDN?

Needing a CDN isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it’s the opposite. The website owners who would most benefit from a CDN are the owners of websites that get a good amount of traffic, especially if it’s from various locations around the world.

Additionally, websites that host multimedia content like music or games, live video broadcasts, video files, or file downloads would also greatly benefit from a CDN. Not only do CDNs optimize user experience, but they also help your website use its resources more efficiently.

Additional features to look for in a CDN

A good CDN will do more than keep your website from crashing and help give each of your users the optimal browsing experience. Here are a few of the features you should be demanding from your CDN in 2015:

  • Dynamic content caching optimization: Pretty much all CDNs will cache the static content from your website, like images and static HTML, in order to create quicker load times. But what about dynamic content? Should your users have to wait longer just because you have a more advanced website? A good CDN will vote no on that and work to ‘learn’ about your content, caching dynamic content that qualifies as semi-dynamic for as long as it remains unchanged on your website. This is achieved by your CDN continuously profiling your website.
  • Networking optimization: This is just one more way your CDN should be helping your website load faster for your users while also keeping your website from wasting its resources. Networking optimization techniques include removing unnecessary characters from your source code, compressing images, on-the-fly compression of CSS, HTML and JavaScript files, reusing open sessions, and managing connections more efficiently.
  • DDoS protection: You know what really helps keep your users having good experiences while visiting your website? Not getting nailed with a DDoS attack that renders your website unusable. While a good CDN will provide dynamic content caching optimization and networking optimization, a great CDN will provide DDoS protection services that will keep attack traffic from reaching and impacting your website.
  • Load balancing: A great CDN will also provide you with load balancing, which distributes your website traffic across a number of servers in order to optimize your website’s performance as well as reduce server load. This will likely include real-time evaluation of server health in order to detect outages and prevent downtime.

The world may not be what Marty McFly and Doc Brown told us it would be in 2015, but if you’ve got a website with traffic coming in from any number of locales, it’s a fine time to be alive. A good Content Delivery Network will keep your website running optimally for users all over the world and make crashes something you only have to worry about in terms of that hoverboard you just might get one of these days.

Patrick Vernon is a freelance writer, with experience across a variety of niches, from business and technology, to travel and lifestyle content.

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